Andrew Sturtz (2g, Ast), Tyler Coulter (2g), and Hunter Garlent (G, Ast) paced the Rapid City Rush offensively, and in Brad Barone’s return to the team’s net, earned a 6-4 win in the rubber match over the Allen Americans on Saturday night. The win gives the Rush the series with two wins in three games, and wins in 8 of their last 10 contests dating to March 6th.
The Americans hit the scoresheet first, but the Rush countered twice to carry a lead into the locker room. Frank DiChiara earned his first goal of the year after Corey Mackin found him wide open in front of the net. DiChiara rifled a one-timer past Rush net-minder Brad Barone to give Allen a 1-0 lead at 14:32 of the first period (Mackin had the lone assist). However, exactly 36 seconds later, Tyler Coulter stripped the puck from a stumbling Les Lancaster and closed in on the Allen net. Coulter tossed a backhand shot past Allen goalie Frank Marotte to quickly square the game at 1-1 (the goal was unassisted). Then, with 19.7 seconds remaining, Hunter Garlent, Andrew Sturtz, and Butrus Ghafari made the highlight reels. Ghafari, from his own zone, launched the puck to Garlent, who despite getting muscled off the puck, flung a pass to Sturtz onside. Sturtz then maneuvered by one defender, then a second, was tripped up, and while sliding from his knees delivered a behind the back no-look pass to Garlent. Garlent rifled the puck top shelf to give the Rush a 2-1 lead after one (Sturtz and Ghafari assisted).
Exactly 64 seconds into period two, Garlent and Sturtz were at it again. After Garlent took a Kevin Spinozzi pass in-zone on a two-on-one, he dished one of his own to Sturtz in close range of the net. Sturtz delayed, waited for Marotte to bite, then tucked a backhander into a wide open cage to double the Rush lead to 3-1 (Garlent and Spinozzi assisted). The Americans fired back a minute later, and eventually tied things up. Just 60 seconds after Sturtz’ strike, Les Lancaster took a drop pass in the neutral zone and scooted into the Rush third. His initial attempt on net was denied by Barone, but he picked up his own rebound and slid it past Barone to bring Allen within one, trailing 3-2 at 2:04 gone by in the second (Colby McAuley and Ben Carroll assisted). Moments later, Josh Lammon evened things up when he crept in down the left wing side and unleashed a backhander over Barone’s shoulder, squaring the game at 3-3 with 7:21 gone by in period two (Samuel Laberge and McAuley assisted).
Andrew Sturtz got the Rush back on the horse to start the third period and build to the eventual win. At 5:07 of the final period, Sturtz collected a Spinozzi pass and motored to the high slot of the Allen zone. Sturtz ripped a backhander past Marotte’s blocker to put the Rush back on top at 4-3 (Spinozzi and Cedric Montminy assisted). Moments later, in the midst of four-on-four hockey, Tyler Coulter was at it again, forcing a turnover just inside the blue line. Coulter turned into the slot and unloaded a wrister through Marotte’s five-hole to double the lead to 5-3 with 7:22 left in the game (the goal was unassisted). Allen came back within one in the final minutes, and in doing so ended a near-Herculean Rush penalty killing streak. With 3:21 left in the game, Lancaster notched a second tally with a one-timer from the point on Allen’s final power play, closing the gap to 5-4, and halting the Rush penalty-killing streak at 37 consecutive power plays killed off and nine games in a row without conceding a power play goal (Phillip Beaulieu and Kameron Kielly assisted). The final nail in the coffin came from Johnny Coughlin, who launched an empty-net goal from his own bench in the final minute to seal the win and the series victory over Allen with a 6-4 triumph (Mike Hedden had the lone assist).
Making his first start in net for the Rush for the first time since February 28, 2019 was Brad Barone, who earned his first Rush win since February 23rd of that year, stopping 25 of 29 shots on net (1-0-0-0 with Rush, 6-2-1-1 total).
The Rush now transition back home briefly for a pair of games against the Wichita Thunder on Friday, April 2nd, and Saturday, April 3rd. Puck drop for both contests is slated for 7:05 p.m. MDT at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena.
Saturday’s game is our first-ever “Rush Gives Back Night”, in conjunction with our annual Teddy Bear Toss! EVERY SEAT IN THE ARENA is $25, with $5 of each sale going into a pot. That pot will then be distributed amongst four local Black Hills area non-profit organizations: Boys and Girls Club, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Fork Real Café, and Special Olympics South Dakota. Our proud partner, Black Hills Energy, has pledged to match up to $10,000 of that pot for donation! Teddy Bears from the toss will be donated to three additional groups as well: CASA, Rural America Initiatives, and Youth and Family Services.